“Great show tonight,” Troy compliments us. He hands me the keys; free drinks disable him again.
I get us back to Cambridge, sometime after 2 am. Minehan begs me to let him drive. I know he doesn’t have a license.
“Why do you pursue disaster if you know it will eventually befall you.”
“Maybe it’ll bespring me,” he is still drunk enough to think that remark is funny. Troy refuses to let him sleep it off in the Dart’s back seat. He isn’t about to share. Jack sits in the middle of the front seat, soon sliding into my lap. David ends up in the wheel well, not ready to sleep next to Jack. I’m glad he was totally straight. Too many of my friends test their sexuality on me.
Soon, it’s Troy who is draped on both Jack and me as we lead him to his dorm room. We hold him up as he vomits the Awful Awful Awful before going inside. We lead David into our room where he makes a beeline for Jack’s bed.
“We’re taking care of everyone tonight,” I complain.
“Right,” Jack mumbles as he rolled over to let me into bed. No one is listening to me.
I drag Jack and David to mass at St Paul’s on Sunday morning. They sleep through most of it. They aren’t the only ones. The parish is in an upper class neighborhood of Cambridge. The priest compliments me on my good attendance as we chat by the front door. I ask him about the choir. Vatican II has been in place for ten years. Parishes are encouraged to include more music in their services.
“You’re a choir boy then?” he inquires.
“A musician,” I claim.
“Sure’n you’d like to help out with the choir?”
“Sure, if’n there is one,” I mimic his brogue.
“St Paul’s has a choir school for boys ages 10-14. The boys will be excited by your interest.”
I agree, kicking myself for taking on another long-term project. Up on the third floor of Mower, Jill is up, slightly annoyed we failed to drag her to mass. We all go for breakfast at Grendel’s Den on Winthrop Street.
“Anyone want to help me with the choir at St Paul’s?”
“Are you planning another lampoon?” Jill smiles. “Teaching the boys to bend over to high notes?”
“Jill?” I’m taken aback. “We’ll just add music to the singing. We need to give back. It’ll give Jack a chance to do Gregorian Chants on his MOOG.”
She shakes her head and grins.
“Tim’s a saint, ya know,” Jack defends me vigorously.
“Yeah. We noticed that he’s all goodie two shoes.”
“No, really. He got the New York Diocese to start homeless shelters for runaways. He performed a miracle at St Patrick’s. Diamonds burst forth from the crucifix.”
Minehan laughs. “That’s why yer so rich, eh?”
“We didn’t get to keep any. Cardinal Cooke has one he’ll present to the Pope when it comes time to canonize Tim.”
“Best to mend yer ways, Tim. It’s sixty years without sin to qualify for sainthood. Your treatment of the Smithies may have already disqualified ya.”
“What happened at Smith?” Jill is all ears.
“Did you break up with your girlfriends?” Jill needs to know.
“It wasn’t even a date. We met the parents and tried to get them to like us. They turned out to be anti-rock,” Jack explains.
“We may be banned at Smith,” I lament.
“Well, there’s only one way to deal with setbacks,” David proposes. “Put on another show.”
We spend the morning setting up again on the Mower lawn. Jack nixes getting another keg. It would be cause for the Campus Police to shut us down. Trixie makes up flyers touting our new band, ‘The Moody Rudes’, with the title of our hit single ‘Sunday Afternoon’ with the only information ‘Mower House, 1 pm.’ By 12;30 people begin milling about. Once they find out there is no keg, many leave. The folkies wisely sit far back from where we set up our gear.
“You should come closer,” I exhort them. “We sound best when you’re right in front.”
They remain seated.
The 3D girls get all the co-eds on the third floor to pass out black roses, called moody blooms. The girls have wigs for us which they styled in 60’s fab four fashion. We wore black and paisley, with turtlenecks and ascots. When we walk out of the dorm, there are several hundred fans. Word of mouth has brought them.
David and I go up to the single mic to greet everyone.
“We had a show last night at Smith,” I bring everyone up-to-date. “It went great but our girlfriends were dragged away by their parents. We’re banned at Smith,” People boo and whistle.
“Well, we didn’t know what to do, so we thought you might like a show. And we can express our sadness about losing our girlfriends.”
Jack plays the intro on the MOOG, followed by David and me on vocals and guitars.
‘Nights in white satin
Never reaching the end
Letters I’ve written
Never meaning to send
Beauty I’ve always missed
With these eyes before
Just what the truth is
I can’t say any more
‘Cause I love you
Yes I love you
Oh how I love you’
(Girls rushed forward, with tears in their eyes. It was all so romantic. We played up our angst.)
‘Gazing at people
some hand in hand
Just what I’m going through
they can’t understand
Some try to tell me
thoughts they cannot defend
Just what you want to be
you will be in the end.’
We held all the girls’ hearts in our hands.
‘And I love you
Yes I love you
Oh how I love you
Oh how I love you.’
Songwriters: JUSTIN HAYWARD
© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group
The guys in the back are glaring at our pull on their girlfriends’’ heart strings. They recognize con-men when they hear them.
I know how to win over the guys.
“In my last band, our mascot was a black lab named Max. He was a trained pot sniffer. Instead of busting anyone he found holding, we just made them share. I know some of you have weed,” looking at my pot-head friends, “how about bustin’ it out?”
We played the CSNY’s ‘Woodstock’ as the joints go around. No Campus Cops in sight yet.
The spirit of the 60’s gets the folkies ‘back to the garden,’ if only to catch a joint that’s going by – ‘turning into butterflies above our nation.’
We return to ‘progressive’ English romantic rock and do Procol Harem’s ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’
‘We skipped the light fandango
Turned cartwheels ‘cross the floor…
She said, ‘There is no reason
And the truth is plain to see…
That her face, at first just ghostly,
Turned a whiter shade of pale
And so it was that later’
Songwriters: GARY BROOKER, KEITH REID, MATTHEW FISHER
© T.R.O. INC.
“She’s gone,” I cry. Jack and David pat me on the back as I faux cry crocodile tears. Somehow real tears were running down my face – too much time in Hollywood, I figure, teaching me how to turn on the faucets. I rip into the intro to Yes’s ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart.
I next decide to do our old ‘Lives’ song.
“This song’s called ‘Life’s Lies.’”
“This is our life,
our pride alive
Its our times
Lost our minds
Stupid rules rule
Demand we act
Just like fools
To be like you.
Look at me, you havta scream.
You think we be freakin’
You gotta be fast to not be seen.
No wonder we’re always sneakin’
“Well, I guess the parents saw through our fake manners and faux charm. But I’m gonna miss that girl.”
Jack does the intro to the Beatles ‘You’re gonna lose that girl.’ David did the vocals, singing to me, like a big brother
‘You’re going to lose that girl,
You’re going to lose that girl.
If you don’t take her out tonight,
She’s going to change her mind,
You need to take her out tonight,
You need to treat her kind’
“But we’ve already said good-bye,” I argue with David, going right into the Moody Blues’ ‘Go Now.’
‘We’ve already said “Goodbye”
Since you gotta go,
oh you’d better
Go now go now, go now (Go now)
Before you see me cry?
I don’t want you to tell me
just what you intend to do now
‘Cause how many times do I have to tell you
darlin’, darlin’ I’m still in love with you now
Whoa oh oh oh’
Songwriters: DAVID J WEISS, DON EDOUARD FAGENSON, RON BANKS
© BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC
Jack takes over the sinnging on Roy Orbison’s ‘Crying.’
‘I thought that I was over you
but it’s true, so true
I love you even more than I did before
but darling what can I do
For you don’t love me and I’ll always be
Crying over you, crying over you
Yes, now you’re gone and from this moment on
I’ll be crying, crying, crying, crying
Yeah crying, crying, over you’
Songwriters: CHURCHILL L. KOHLMAN
© Roy Orbison Music Company , Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
David and I join Jack repeating the chorus over and over. The tears are running down my cheeks. I think, ‘how cheeky can I get?’
“I’m not giving up,” I swore to David and the crowd. I sing the Moody Blues ‘The Story in Your Eyes.’
‘I’ve been thinking about our fortune
And I’ve decided that we’re really not to blame
For the love that’s deep inside us
now, is still the same
And the sound we make together
Is the music to the story in your eyes’
Songwriters: JUSTIN HAYWARD © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
I look past the crowd toward Widener Library and see the Campus Police, watching our performance. Half the crowd is stoned, with a dozen joints going around. It’s time to disperse quickly.
“Thank you, Harvard. I need to get it all out. I’m never giving up.”
I run off stage with my guitar, telling David, Jill, and Jack to follow me. The crowd is confused. The 3D girls come running after us.
“Please take our equipment down to the boiler room. The cops are about to pounce on everyone. Can we hide out in your room on three?” I ask nicely.
They run off, happy roadies, to do our bidding. After changing into different clothes and losing the wigs, we gather in 3D and watch the Campus Police arrive in force. Panic among the stoners ensues.
The best strategy is to drop the joint and just walk away. Those who run were chased down and rounded up. I regrett having told everyone to toke up. Our weekend concerts in the Yard are over. All I can hope for is something organized by a Harvard approved club. Jack is trembling with fear that his Harvard life is over.
The counter-intuitive move is to call Dad and get his take. He knows how to handle the police.
“Hi, Susan. It’s Tim, your favorite step-child. Is Dad there?”
“He’ll be so glad you called, Tim. We miss you. How’s Harvard?”
“Great. I even have a girlfriend.”
“Wow, how’s Jack taking that?”
“He has one, too. We’re trying to experience normal college life.”
“How’s that working?”
“That’s why I need to talk with Dad. We may be in trouble.”
“I’m glad you’re asking for his help. He’ll be pleased even if he complains.”
“He’s nothing like Max was, but he knows how to get on your Dad’s good side.”
“I need to take lessons.”
“Oh, Tim. I’ll get your dad.”
Dad is actually nice on the phone until I explain about the riot we caused.
“Don’t you ever learn? Was anyone hurt?” he expects it to be another Skynyrd concert disaster.
“No, we got everyone to leave before the police arrived. A few kids got busted for pot.”
“So you got away with it?”
“Well, that’s why I’m calling. I need your perspective. We were already gone when the police came, but I’m sure they’ll find out we organized the concert. What do I tell them?”
“You mean how do you manipulate the situation so you don’t get punished?”
“All the police want to know is who’s responsible and how to stop it from happening again.”
“We’re just promoting our band by putting on a show.”
“They don’t like your band because they think you’re promoting illegal activity.
“Last week they stopped us because we gave away beer. We didn’t do that today.”
“You want my advice?” He proceeds to give it. “Go to the police and explain what happened. Don’t tell them your motives unless they ask why. Be respectful and remorseful that it turned out badly. Don’t lie and definitely don’t try to manipulate the facts.”
I think for a second. The worst that could happen is I’ll be expelled. I pretty much know that Harvard is not for me, anyway. What if the hell.
I tell Jack I’ll take the blame for the unauthorized concert. David isn’t really a student. Jack was just going along with me. All three of us are attention junkies. There’s no need for all of us to be punished, although maybe therapy is necessary.
I walk into the Campus Police office alone.
“Hey, Mick,” I greet our favorite gate guard.
“We was just talkin’ about youse,” He smiles at me.
“Yeah, this time I’m in trouble during the day.”
“Why?” he asks.
“Cause I’m young? My girlfriend’s parents don’t like me? Students like our band?”
“Well, what is it. The girlfriend? That I can understand.”
“I know you need to talk with me.”
“Hey, kid. We’re not counselors. You screw up, we’re gonna know about it.”
“So how do we play our songs without gettin’ in trouble?”
“You might let us know what you’re planning. We’re not the enemy here.”
“Can we have regular Sunday concerts on the lawn at Mower?”
“Fill out this form. Turn it into the Dean’s office. Then wait for approval. Keep the band in the basement until they approve your request.”
“Whadya want us ta do. Arrest ya for incitin’ a riot?”
“Then beat it. And wear decent underwear if yer goin’ to be naked on the T.”
All the other cops laugh at me, making me laugh, too.
“Say hi to Minehan for me.”
When I get back to 3D, everyone is waiting with bated breath.
“Did we get written up again?” Jack is on pins and needles.
“Naw. He gave me this form to get permission to play in the Yard.”
There’s a collective sigh of relief.
“What did they say about me?” Minehan only thinks about himself, like all teenagers.
“Mick says hi.”
“I knew he likes me.”
We are off the hook. I call Dad and thank him. I figured it makes up for his screw-up with Joey. I visualize his smug look. It reminds me of Winston.
We all go to Widener Library and prepare for our upcoming classes. I make sure Minehan doesn’t copy my calculus worksheets. He still has all the right answers without showing the work.
“Why don’t you show the steps you took to arrive at your answers.”
“What steps. It’s like music. I think about what the next notes will be way before it’s time to play them and get there without thinking about it.”
“Okay,” I’m not going to dispute his ‘music as calculus’ thinking. “You are pretty calculating.”
“I know. I’m impetuous. I just visualize where I wanna end up when I jump into the great unknown.”
“Sounds like wishful thinking to me.”
It’s time for his next swim lesson. No droopy drawers this week as he brings regular swim trunks from home. He allows me to hold him up by his stomach without belly aching that I’m molesting him. He even learns to rollover, so he can rest, with my hand in the small of his back.
“No unnecessary exploring, Gaybo,” he warns me.
With occasional rests on his back, he’s soon able to complete a full lap of the pool. He’s distressed to learn that the Harvard swim requirement was to complete 4 laps within a time limit.
“More fagging off in the pool, I guess,” he complains.
We all go for pizza at ‘Noch’s.’ The girls insist they each pay their share, instead of Jack picking up the tab. Minehan glares at them for making him pay as well.
“How am I gonna pay my tuition if I gotta pay for pizza as well?”
“How can you possibly pay your own tuition?” Trixie asks.
“I already got $200 set aside from our earnings at the gig.”
“You got paid to play at Smith?”
“Sure. We ain’t slaves, like at the Lampoon.”
”You two get paid as well?” Jill has to know.
“We got $150 each. David also played with the opening act. It was a straight 25% of the bar tab.”
“That why you didn’t want me to come?”
“Jeez, Jill. We weren’t even booked. They put us on and the bar take went up. We got ‘em so riled up they’s throwin’ their beer at us. Sound like fun?”
“No way. Sounds like a freak show. That when yer girlfriends’ parents dragged them away?”
“Yup. Romance was not in the air.”
“Even after you wrote them that Moody Blues ripoff?”
“The parents weren’t impressed.”
That night we find Troy in his room. We ask him to check with Venus about Trudie and Joan.
“I already heard. If they weren’t in college, they’d be grounded. The parents declared you guys dangerous and off-limits.”
“Yeah, we knew that. But what do the girls want?”
“Trudie hates what you did but loves it as well. She’s conflicted. Joan misses Jack but is waiting for Trudie to tell her what to do.”
“That’s good. Can Venus give them a message from us?”
“She promised not to tell you anything. They forgot to tell her not to tell me.”
“Can you tell Venus that we’re dying not knowing what they think. Tell her about the concert we played yesterday. We even did Roy Orbison’s ‘Crying’ we was so upset.
“They’ll find that romantic. Maybe you’re a one trick pony, your lives are all about the band.”
“Hell no. The band is all about our lives.”
“See what I mean?”
“Yup,” I agree.
“You missed the game yesterday. We lost to Cornell 9-3. Everybody wonder why there were no girl cheerleaders. The team lacked spark”
“Man, we got blamed for everything this weekend. The riot in the Yard and now the football loss.”
“Get Venus to sneak them out next Saturday and come here. We’ll act like it wasn’t our idea. They liked the party at Fox,” Jack plots.
“You guys are definitely foxy.”
“Tell Venus she’s a ‘Foxy Lady.’
“Time to turn all this into an article,” Kurt announces. “Any ideas?”
“We can expose all these bullies as typical Harvard male chauvinists,” I suggest.
“That would be an exposé, not a lampoon,” Jill notes.
That opinion makes me pause. “I thought we wanted to expose the misogyny here.”
“We’re not reporting the truth; we point to the obvious by satirizing the truth,” Kurt is agreeing with Jill.
“Okay. We need to make these guys seem silly, not just blind idiots.”
“That’s a start,” Kurt agrees.
“Good. I’m not happy being seen as a victim,” Jill declares.
“You’ve given as good as you got,” I praise her.
“Don’t make everyone a hero or a villain. This is not an epic fable,” Kurt warns.
“You want silly? Let Jill be the misogynist and the boys on staff be the victims in her reign of sexual abuse.”
“Yeah, I’m Barbarella of Boston.” Jill adds.
Kurt laughs. “Okay. That’s good. Do a draft, no more than 1000 words on Jill’s reign of terror. And make it funny. Serious is not a word for the Lampoon.”
Kurt calls a staff meeting. He announces that Jill and I would no longer be doing intern duties as he had us on special assignment. Looks of concern greet the announcement, as the worst abusers know there may be a reckoning coming.
At lunch in commons, we advise Jack and David of our new role at the Lampoon. Jack insists he be included in the drafting of our first article. David realizes he would be the only intern and insists we include him. He has no idea what it’s all about. I call Kurt and advise him that all four of us are brainstorming and won’t be in that afternoon.
“I’ll expect a draft by tomorrow morning,” he order.
We sit in commons going over all the abuses that Jill suffered, reversing them for males. We come up with a list of changes at the Lampoon:
- Males must wear tight jeans that accent their butts and packages.
- The bathroom is now female-oriented. Guys have to sit down to pee. They are required to use excessive toilet paper to dry themselves. Leaving the seat up is cause for termination.
- Female staffers are to be addressed as ‘Yes, my mistress.’
- Males are to be addressed as ‘honey boy, or ‘sweet ass.’
- Males staffers will be topless on Fridays.
- Males staffers are to be subject to hygiene inspection and required to have bikini waxes.
- Tea is to be served instead of coffee in the afternoon.
- Male staffers are required to stay in the dorm when it is that time of the month.
- The Lampoon Editor will be a female for the next 100 years to correct gender inequality.
- Male staffers will be available to service the new editor whenever needed.
- The Ibis on the masthead is replaced by a nesting bird.
- Puck will now be Judy whenever Punch is mentioned.
- Accusing a female of being lesbian for refusing to date a male staffer is subject to the lash.
After writing up the new rules, a short description of the first week of their implementation chronicles the chaos when boys are told to ‘woman up’ if they resist the changes. Terry is described as terrified of the chubby chasers who stalk him at work. Long lines for the bathroom develop after coffee break and lunch; female staffers are allowed to cut the line in retribution for 100 years of discrimination. Talk about football is banned at the water cooler, replaced by Judy Collins and Carol King records. A comprehensive seminar on women in history was run every day between noon and 12:05 pm. Staffers were required to memorize the list of female U. S. Presidents. Not knowing any was cause for suspension. Male staffers were given nicknames; the most popular were shorty, limp, quick, minuteman, teary, and clueless. It’s voted that on Friday all male staffers were to attend sensitivity and self-esteem classes run at Radcliffe. The males ask for escorts to protect them at Radcliffe, after reports of molesters and male haters.
Kurt laughs at the draft, telling us to proceed with an actual article. The first Lampoon issue is scheduled for the weekend of The Game, November 13th. Kurt tells us we can use actual caricatures of staffers for the derogatory nicknames. Jack volunteers to do the drawings. David insists he will too.
“Okay,” Kurt comes to a summing up. “Who’s going to be the fall guy with their name on the article?”
Jill is willing, but it seems unfair after all the harassment she suffered. David is all too willing, which causes Kurt to suspect he has an ulterior motive – attention addiction. Jack is the only one who doesn’t volunteer, fearful for his Harvard reputation. That leaves it to me. I figure I’ll be expelled by the time it’s published and agree to be the fall guy. Kurt asks me to remain after we’re dismissed.
“Tell me about your time in Hollywood. I may have a project for you.”
“You mean the music, the drugs, or the sex?” I laugh.
“Some other time, but now I mean the movies.”
“Oh, well, we were interns on Scorsese’s new movie ‘New York, New York’ and delivered dailies and edited film to several studios. We also set up a meeting for Universal’s Edgar Bronfman with Elton John. Bronfman wants to set up a record label at Universal.”
“Edgar or Edgar Jr,” he asked.
“Junior. He throws his dad’s money around. He is a perfect match for Jack.”
“So Jack was the leader in this adventure?”
“As far as throwing his dad’s name around, yes. We got MGM to invest $6 million in Marty’s musical because his dad’s a partner with Kurt Kirkorian.”
“So Jack’s the money guy?”
“You already know that. I ain’t rich. My dad works in the defense industry.”
“Fine. But who did the selling at MGM?”
“Sounds like you already know.”
“I heard you were leading Bronfman around by his wallet. Someone must’ve had a sales pitch other than where the money came from.”
“Okay. We did an actual song and dance to get the money, as well as selling Leonard Bernstein’s daughter’s song with her dad’s name on it. It’s the title of the musical now.”
“The word is the movie’s a bomb but Liza comes out smelling sweet because of that one song.”
“Marty’s not happy with us. He thinks we jinx him. His movie on our band never made it past Cannes.”
“So you’re 18 years old and already helped produced two movies?”
“Why are you going to college?”
“I’m in love with Jack. You know that. It ain’t no big secret anymore.”
“Lust in the dust?”
“Yeah, and everywhere else. Ya hate me now?” I can feel he likes me which goes against his normally closed-up heart.
“Why? I’m glad you’ve got each other. Obviously it doesn’t bother the girls. They seem to like that you’re threatening to guys.”
“Yeah, it’s a gas. ‘Cept now we‘re threatening to parents.”
“Troy still likes you.”
“’Cause he gets free beer at Rahar’s.”
“We’re worried you don’t want to stick around. Is that why your name’s on the exposé ?”
“I told ‘em at the interview. I’m here because Jack’s my boyfriend. That hasn’t changed.”
“But it will if you get kicked out.”
“Now y’all sound like Jack.”
“Here’s the deal. I need to send someone to Hollywood on a movie project. Probably gone all semester. You’ll get credit for work-study and all you need to do is pass the finals to get credit for your freshman classes .”
“Ya wants ta split up me and Jack. Y’all’s ‘fraid of gay backlash?”
”Listen, Tim. You need to take a break.”
“Y’alls just old an’ fergets how important love is.”
“Don’t shoot the messenger, Tim. Here’s an opportunity. I need you to do this. I know you won’t drag Jack with you if he wants to be here. We’ll talk some more. Talk it over with Jack. Don’t tell anyone else.”
“Only you can pull this off. I don’t want others to know. They’ll be mad at me if I don’t offer it to them. They’ll feel inadequate for not being trusted to do it.”
“What the hell is so important?”
“It’s a script called ‘Animal House.’ It’s not a Harvard project, but being directed by the National Lampoon.”
“So it’s grown-up shit. They’s all from Harvard anyways.”
“That’s not true. The lead writer’s from Dartmouth. He claims it’s about his frat there. It’s a real soap opera. I read it.”
“So you want me to take it away from him? Can I be a writer?”
“There’s several writers. I need you to spice up what the Dartmouth guy thinks is such a gem. He demands that everything be true to his memory. You can relate and get him into the spirit of making it Hollywood, bigger than life.”
“What does he want? I cain’t be tellin’ him to change what was his life.”
“Your role will be to play the band that parties at the frat. It’s the 60’s. Like your old band, playing frats at U of M.”
“So I get paid?”
“Maybe even bring your band to Hollywood, all expenses paid.”
As I walk back to Mower, I can’t get over the raw ambition of taking False Gods to Hollywood. I can see Kurt’s raw manipulation in holding out the carrot of band promotion to get me to do his biding on the project. Does he think I’ll be easily controlled once I worm my way onto the project? Maybe he doesn’t know how much chaos we caused Scorsese last summer. He seems to know a lot about my prior projects. This is my chance to prove I’m really talented, not just a kid acting out pranks and antics. I need the voice of reason. I even think I should call Dad, for the second time that Sunday. I need someone with their own perspective. I call Michael in Miami.
“Hey, Romeo. Married yet?”
“Not yet. It’s worse than marriage. I’m in college and dating a high schooler.”
“Say hi to Jenna. How’s college?”
“Everyone seems clueless.”
“I know what you mean.”
“How’s rooming with Jack? You love birds finally settled into domestic bliss.”
“Hell no. We’ve got a straight roommate. Both Jack and I are dating girls.”
“Oh, the horror of it all.”
“Harvard wants me to work on a movie in Hollywood. It means leaving Jack here. I need your advice.”
“You’d drop out.”
“Naw. My classes are dumb. I don’t even go. As long as I pass the finals, I’m good. I’ll get paid in Hollywood and get credit for work-study.”
“Sounds like someone wants you to leave Jack. What’s the boy say?”
“I haven’t even told him. I only came here to be with him. They want me to be the music coordinator on the set. My boss at the Lampoon worries I’m about to be kicked out. We’re constantly in trouble here.”
“You’re on the Harvard Lampoon?”
“Yeah. We’re interns. This is a my first promotion.”
“Well, you’re nothing if not ambitious. Go for it. You and Jack have survived being apart before.”
“Yeah, but this was supposed to be our time to finally be together.”
“Love conquers all. What do you really want?”
Michael, as always the sensible one.
“I want it all. And Jack always gets what he wants.”
“Just make him want you to be happy.”
“Sounds like a grand manipulation.”
“Tell him you won’t go because you have to be with him. Then see if he tries to make it work so you get what you really want.”
“I guess. I ain’t a psychologist.”
“Thanks. My girlfriend is in Psych 1. I’ll ask her.”
“Now there’s role reversal.”
I hang up and call Trudie. It’s before curfew. She comes to the phone after someone yells for her.
“I’m not supposed to talk with you,” she establishes her boundaries.
“Can I just ask yer advice. I have a problem. You’ve always been able to see my faults.”
“Yeah. It was real obvious when you acted like a monkey for my folks.”
“Sorry. I was acting crazy. But this is not about us. I got offered a job working on a Hollywood movie. I don’t know how to tell Jack that I want to leave for several months.”
“Sounds more interesting than your freshman classes.”
“That’s why I got offered it. I never go to class. The editor of the Lampoon thinks I’ll get kicked out if I keep doing as I’ve been.”
“Sounds like he has your best interests at heart.”
“It’s exactly what I want to do. I’m only at Harvard because Jack loves it here.”
“It seems stupid, having to parrot back what the profs lecture. That’s why I need to go crazy on the weekends. We’ve been pulled in by the Campus Police three times.”
“Yeah. Venus told us about your ‘love-sick’ concert today.”
“We have to sing about our lives.”
“Is it real or is it Memorex?”
I laugh. “Maybe a bit of drama thrown in.”
“So? Will you miss me if you go all Hollywood?”
“That mean you still wanna go out?”
“Is this some manipulation to find out if I’m still mad at you?”
“No. We can deal with us once I decide how to deal with Jack.”
“Well, the truth comes out. I’m so pleased to be second fiddle.”
“Please. This is not about us. I wanna go to Hollywood and I wanna be with Jack. I know he won’t wanna leave. Am I stuck in Cambridge?”
“Again, it’s all about communication. You believe he’ll throw a fit without actually asking him. Always the cart before the horse.”
“It’s more like the horse’s ass,” I joke.
“Be serious, Tim. How can you make this decision before you’ve even discussed it with Jack?”
Trudie is my new Dr. Kam.
“I just know he’s going to throw a fit.”
“Afraid to stand up for what you want?”
“What if he insists on dropping out too? It’ll be all my fault for ruining his Harvard career.”
“It’s nice you care about consequences. Do you really want him with you in Hollywood? It seems your boss thinks you need to be separated.”
“Argh. I don’t know what to do.”
“When do you have to decide?”
“Soon but I don’t know exactly when.”
“My advice is that you both need to communicate better. Don’t make decisions assuming what each other is thinking or wants.”
“Thank you, Dr. Trudie, for taking my call.”
“Tell Jack that Joan is pining.”
“Don’t overestimate your charm, mister.”
We both laugh.
“Can we come see you next weekend?” I push my luck.
“We’ll see. Just don’t show up unannounced.”
I wondered if she really means it.
I go looking for the little nerd. He’s in Widener, preparing for the coming week’s classes. He has a text out and is making notes from the highlights he made while doing the readings.
“You know the prof will go over this in his lecture,” I kid him.
“Someone has to do the readings,” he argues.
“Minehan just comes up with the answers in calculus. He claims it’s like playing music. He can hear the right answer. It’s his math as music theory.”
“Dude, he just copies your answers,” Jack contends.
“Well, can you take a break. We need to talk. Let’s go to Grendel’s.”
“A-ooow,” he howls.
We sit in the back after getting coffee.
“I talked with Trudie.”
“I thought we had to wait two days before calling.”
“She says we need to stop making assumptions about each other.”
“Does she not know we’re fucking each other?”
“That doesn’t mean we know what’s going on inside our heads.”
“Just what’s going up our butts and other places.”
“Seriously, she’s still pissed we just decided to show up unannounced.”
“Yeah, but I bet they loved it, especially when their parents freaked.”
“She did say Joan is pining for you.”
“How sweet. Sounds like we’re in the clear.”
“It’s not the girls we need to talk about.”
“What? Are you still against Minehan staying with us?”
The boy is clueless.
“I had a long talk with Kurt earlier. He thinks we’re self-destructive.”
“And Minehan isn’t?”
“He’s just a kid, living out his fantasy of college life. Kurt thinks I’m trying to get kicked out.”
“You don’t think you’ll be kicked out too, partner in crime?”
“Jeez, all we do is play our music and get people excited, like at the football game.”
“We’ve got the Dean on our asses, just like that dick AP Spencer at Gables.”
“We toasted his butt,” Jack laughs, forgetting it was because his father is on the school board.
“You know my dad will pull me outta here if we get into more trouble. Your dad will pull strings; you’ll be golden.”
“There’s something you’re not telling me.”
“Kurt offered me a full-time paying position on the Lampoon. He wants me to oversee a National Lampoon movie project about frats at Dartmouth.”
“Wow. Doesn’t he know I was an acting assistant producer for Marty?
“He knows you’re committed to staying in Cambridge.”
“This job is not at Harvard?”
“It’s in Hollywood.”
Jack’s eyes got really big and tears form on the lids.
“Kurt says we need to be separated before both of us ruin our college careers. I’ll get credit for my freshman classes as long as I pass finals, plus I get work-study credit.”
“You really want to do this?” he looks at me beseechingly.
“Only if we can make it work together.”
“That’s all I want, to be together.”
“Maybe life conspires to keep us apart until we’re older,” I hypothesize.
“When are you going?” tears are running down his face.
“Nothing’s set. I’ll havta go out there to be hired. I still need you to help me pass my courses. I’ll be here for finals and Christmas.” I wipe his tears away. He puts on his good face.
“Kurt wants to separate us?”
“He thinks we’re self-destructive.”
“We’ll get through this. When I was in Switzerland and you had closed your heart to me, I never stopped loving you.”
“I’ll always love you, Jack.”
“Look how that worked out for Jace – trapped in the netherworld.”
“That’s exactly what you want, someone permanently straight to keep me straight.”
“Joan is pining for you.”
“How did that happen?”
“Perfect manners. Mummy will be so pleased.”
We go back to Widener and finish our preparation for the week. I’ll tell Kurt I can go to Hollywood. That night, we ask Minehan to sleep up in 3D. We have to store up memories.
Monday morning sees us all eating breakfast together, plotting our week. Jill and I will work out of 3D in Mower on the Lampoon article; Jack and David will attend classes. They promise to work on doodles as caricatures of the staff members we’re going to parody. Jack suggests we get a printer to create a deck of cards with the doodles on all the face cards. We’d sell it as 100th year memorabilia, since the Lampoon started in 1876. Then we’ll assign mean names to the staffers as graffiti on the cards and publish it with the article. Minehan is really excited about becoming a cartoonist, thinking his writing is sub-par for Harvard. We tell him to show us his doodles as soon as they’re done. Jack will do caricatures.
Working alone with Jill on the narrative leading up to the sexual harassment rules, I really want to tell her about my Hollywood deal. I promised Kurt to only tell Jack. She asks me about the Smithies.
“I called Trudie last night. She’s still mad but we talked it out. Maybe they’ll see us this weekend.”
“Jack use his charm?.”
“No. Actually I called her for advice about Jack. That’s the only reason she’d talk with me.”
“Still fighting about kicking Minehan out? He’s not staying up on 3.”
“No. Trudie has been telling me I make too many assumptions about people, expecting them to do what I want without asking them first.”
“Some new sex position you want to try out?”
“Since you found girls who accept your sexual deviancy, you can’t expect me not to call you on your shit. Someone needs to keep it real.”
“I thought you liked me?” I wheedle.
We leave it at that. Later in the day, Minehan organizes another swim lesson. This time I’m restricted to the deck while the 3D girls hold him up in the water. He claims to feel more relaxed knowing they won’t molest him. They balk at the mouth-to-mouth training he refused to do with me. He makes two laps that day, praising his new coaches for getting him past his mental obstacles. I state he’s acting ‘mental.’ David put on a show of ‘mental’ poses.
Jack buys everyone pizza at ‘Noch’s’ extolling our PE exercise. He worries he is getting a pot-belly. Minehan calls him a ‘pot-headed jelly belly.’ Jack and David pass around their sketches of the Lampoon staff.
They’re great, just enough to make the upperclassmen look off-kilter. They do the eyes to perfection; they look devious and perverted. We discuss which card should be assigned to each staffer. We reject the Ace of Spades for Kurt as too much like ass kissing on our part. Naturally he becomes the Queen of Hearts. Fatty Terry is our first skewering; he becomes the Queen of Farts (Clubs). Troy is easy as the King of Spades, our ever reliable ride to Smith. The rest of the face cards are assigned according to the nicknames we made up – Stubby, Limpy, Quick, Minuteman, Teary, Nerdy, Stinky and Clueless. As interns we assign ourselves to the four knave/jack cards – David to spades (as a black Irishman) , Jill to hearts, Jack to diamonds, and I was clubs (as Mower clubhouse leader). Jack says he’ll pay to have a proof set printed. Minehan begs to be the salesman, needing the money for his tuition. The Lampoon is planning to turn the front of the Lampoon Castle into a jack o’lantern, for the Yale game in celebration of a century of lampooning. We get a photo of the proposed display to go on the back of each card.
Jack completes the form for a permit to play in the Yard. When he turns it in, they state he has to give them 10 days notice, so the date has to be changed to the Saturday morning of the Yale game, the big football game of the year. The lady tells him he’s crazy. He agrees but insists we still submit the request. Later we discuss what we would play.
“We should play rah-rah songs to build up student spirit for the game,” Jill suggests.
“Based on your knowledge of football traditions?” I kid her.
“Well, moody music isn’t very inspiring,” she notes.
“Maybe we can do military and patriotic songs and march everyone into the stadium,” Trixie proposes.
“Let’s do ‘Ballad of a Green Beret’
and see how many people will follow us.
“I’m sick of the Beatles,” Minehan claimed.
“What? Everyone loves the Beatles,” Jill states.
“That’s why I hate them. Everyone’s stuck in the 60’s.”
“You’re so strange,” Trixie remarks.
“Ya just noticed?” I laugh.
“Then we should do Stones,” Jack proposes. “They’re the anti-Beatles.”
“Back in 1963. I was 5 then,” Minehan is not moved.
“I don’t get me no satisfaction,” I sing. “I need my blankie and a nap.”
We all agreed he has a point.
“We could do Jonathan Richman. He went to Harvard,” Jack continues to suggest music.
“Yeah. Wear a coat and tie but be hippies. ‘Road Runner, Road Runner’,” David was still a naysayer.
“Let’s just do our own songs,” I suggest.
“What? Old False Gods songs about climbing trees and sneaking around Miami?” David won’t stop being negative.
“No. New songs about being students at Harvard,” I’m ready to move on.
“No protest songs,” Jack complains. “We can’t give them an excuse to kick us out.”
“We got my song about the Rat. It just protests faggotry.”
Jack and I glare at him.
“At least that’s about us,” Jill takes David’s side.
“Okay. How about David’s phobia about a guy teaching him to swim until five mermaids show up,” I start to get new ideas.
“Yeah, and how Bailey’s is fer girls with little pink tables and chairs.”
“And, ‘Noch’s’ has the best pizza as long as Jack pays,” Minehan crows.
“And Mick the Yard Guard telling us to get better underwear if’n we’s takin’ the T home in the buff.”
“How everyone throws up all weekend from being drunk and cain’t learn nothin’ all week-long from being hung over.”
“Stop,” yells Jack. “Stop acting all fake country. We’s at Harvard.”
“How they don’t want girls at Harvard ‘cause then everyone will know that all Harvard guys are social retards,” Jill chimes in.
“And the football team, “Trixie adds. “Big fat men in tiny trousers.”
“Looks like we have a dozen ideas for new songs,” I realize. “Let’s start with a football song, since we all disdain football.”
“But you love football, Tim,” Jill notes.
“Well, that was Andy, the hick from the sticks in I-o-way.”
“So Andy was the boy who got into Harvard. Tim is the one who wants to get kicked out?”
Jack looks pained.
“I jist cain’t go home agin,” I misquote Thomas Wolfe.
“So, why mock the team when we’re trying to get people to the game to cheer?” Trixie is confused.
“If them players wants to knock their brains out, we kin at least cheer ‘em on,” I revert to my Harvard New English.
After our spirited discussion, we settle down and wrote up the first drafts of the seven songs based on our social observations – life in a 300-year-old institution.
The first lines of the football fight song went:
‘Ready. Set. Hup Hup.
One two three four
What are we fighting for
Guts and glory
On the stadium floor’
On Harvard, on the field
Big fat men in short trousers
Give ‘em a pat on the butt
Give ‘em a hand and a rouse
See cheerleaders jump and strut’
We submitt the permit application as the Harvard Sitting Band and list our purpose as a spirit rally leading up to The Game. Almost immediately we are summoned to the Dean’s Office. Jack is terrified we’ll be written up again. For someone who did nothing to gain admission, he’s struggling to keep his privilege. As the one who had to prove myself to get in, I believe I could expect some support for my student activities. Jack believes I just didn’t care, and more importantly, not caring what he feels. It’s always about him.
Dean Epps has a reputation for respecting student rights but also is a stickler for proper procedures.
“What is this Harvard Sitting Band? If you want to form an organization, you have to go through proper channels.”
“It’s just the name of our band,” I explain. “It’s my fault, Dean, not Jack’s”
“That remains to be seen.”
“We applied to the Marching Band to be a spirit section. I had done that at Iowa State last year. We had really inspired their team against Oklahoma.”
“Not without annoying the alumni, according to the local newspaper,” Dean Epps has our records which are more detailed than I realized.
“We hoped Harvard would be more excited about spirited music, but the director turned us down.”
“So, the Sitting Band is a joke, meant to tweak the established band.”
“Not really, we started playing guitars in our dorm room, several of the other residents joined in. When we added drums, it was so loud the RA asked us to move to the basement. We planned a party before the BU game. It was moved outside when too many people showed up.”
“Maybe because you provided beer.”
“It was a party. 18’s the drinking age in Massachusetts.”
“We got everyone excited. We even played the Star Spangled Banner. Everyone went to the game. The cheerleaders let us lead cheers. The team responded by coming from behind and beating BU. All the girls in Mower were cheerleaders. Even the old alums in the stands said they were impressed with girls at Harvard. They hadn’t even known about it.”
“So, you want to do it again? Even after last weekend’s commotion?”
“We talked with Campus Police. They told us we needed to get a permit.”
“Permits are for recognized Harvard organizations.”
“We’re just a House band, from Mower. The girls on the third floor are really into it. They’re intimidated by all the weekend drunks. It’s a chance to show they’ve raised standards above drinking and purging.”
“Okay,” Dean Epps smiles. “You boys worry me but at least you make a good case, standing up for the poor defenseless Radcliffe girls.”
“They can do that very well for themselves,” Jack pipes up.
“No alcohol. No pot. I’ll approve a one-time concert at 11 am until game time. You boys are very talented. Don’t let me find you have some nefarious scheme behind all this.”
“Just to have all the Mower girls worship us.”
“That sounds more normal than riding the T in your underwear.”
I start to explain how that happened, but Jack pulls me away as Dean Epps waves us out.
We are permitted.
Next we go to the Lampoon castle. Kurt pulls me into his office.
“Have you made up your mind about the work-study?”
“Jack’s okay with it, as long as I get credit and I’m back for Spring semester.”
“Okay. I’m sending you to see P J O’Rouke in New York. He’s in charge. He’ll vet you on your music background. Tell him to kiss your ass if he wants some arts degree or other qualifications. If he balks, bring Patti Smith in to remove all his pubic hair. You know her, right?”
“Last time I saw her, we spent the night together.”
“What did Jack say about that?”
“He had to sleep with Robert Maplethorpe. He ended up in bed with Patti and me.”
He shook his head. “So she’ll back you up? PJ can be a pompous ass.”
“And, why must he vet me? If he resists, we’ll play ‘Pissin’ in a River’ in his office.”
“It’s just a formality. They’re trying to sell the magazine and cash in for themselves. He’s exerting his authority. The movie is on the West Coast. I need you to report only to me, like my eyes and ears.”
“Why the cloak and dagger?”
“Harvard gets a licensing fee for the use of the Lampoon name. That will go away when it’s sold. The University is willing to give it up for a price. They don’t care that the National Lampoon will then be fully independent from us. No more direct feeding Harvard Lampoon graduates to the mag. It’s like a child divorcing their parent. That Dartmouth guy taking control of the movie project is a direct result of the pending sale.”
“You want me to sabotage the head screenwriter to reassert Harvard control of the movie?”
“No, not directly. I want you to show PJ that it’s in their interest to stay connected with us.”
“I don’t understand. You want me to undercut his decisions but convince him he needs us to straighten it out?”
“No. You’re my eyes and ears. I’ll play the bad guy.”
“And being a spy makes me a good guy?”
He looks at me. “I’m not properly making my case. Go out there and do your creative thing to make the movie better. I’ll play the angles to show they need us.”
I like the cat and mouse interplay but know I needed this PJ guy on my side as well. Maybe Kurt is playing me. I needed him to back me up if ‘m going to succeed.
“So, it’s East Coast versus West Coast. That I can play. Being a spy, not so sure.”
“Okay. But keep your eyes open and report back.”
“Do I come in as a heavy hitter?” thinking about using Daddy’s pull like we did with MGM.
“Naw. You’re just a kid with a lot of musical knowledge and ability. Get them coming to you. Be indispensable. To prove that we have value beyond the Lampoon name.”
“I understand. When do I go to New York?”
“I’ll send you right away. Spend a week with the National Lampoon people. Get to know them, for them to trust you.”
“Still a spy, huh?
“When can you go?”
“Next week? Do I get paid?”
“Once they hire you. Do you need a loan?”
“Nah. I’ll stay at Jack’s at the Dakota.”
“Can I stay with your folks next week? The Lampoon’s sending me to the City,” I try to make it sound casual with Jack.
“So, it starts?” Jack looks sad. “I think they are in Florida now.”
“That’s cool. I’ll stay at the Chelsea. It’s just that I wanted to speak with Daddy.”
“Just call him. It’s not like he’s busy, sitting by the pool and reading the Times.”
I call the next morning, from Kurt’s office. Isabelle answers.
“Hola, Chica. Estoy Tim.”
“Sr. Tim. Como este?”
“Muy bien. et tu?”
“Excelente. Que pasa?”
“Este Sr. Stone en casa?”
“Si. Uno momento.”
“Yes, Tim? How’s Harvard?”
“Jack’s a little neurotic, but he’s getting all A’s.”
“I’m not worried. What can I do for you. It’s nice you feel part of the family. Not a problem with your dad?”
“No. He even gave me good advice this weekend when we got into trouble. I actually listened and learned from him.”
“Do I want to know about trouble?”
“It’s all good. We were playing in Harvard Yard. The Campus police shut us down. Some people were smoking pot.”
“Ah, the Yard. I loved my freshman year there.”
“Were you in Mower, too?”
“Of course. It was the best. What’s it like now.”
“We have Radcliffe girls on the third floor. They’re all our friends. The boys seem retarded.”
“Perhaps ‘socially inept’ is more appropriate. Is Harvard going co-ed?”
“It’s an experiment. Did Jack tell you we’re on the Harvard Lampoon?”
“Yes. I had expected him to try for Hasty Pudding.”
“He wants that as well. Were you in a social club?”
“Porcellian, of course.”
“We got invited there but the upperclassmen rushed the girls we were with. We upped and left. We’re more comfortable with Fox.”
“Yes, of course. Fox is more arty.”
“Our Lampoon editor is there. We’re his interns. He even added one of the ‘Cliffies as an intern at Jack’s suggestion.”
“Well, co-education is coming to Harvard. I doubt Porcellian would be comfortable with you boys if you’re in the vanguard of change.”
“Tell, Jack. He feels they are the top club.”
“My boy, the social climber. Tell him his older brothers were in at Porcellian, for all the good it did them.”
“The MGM people were disparaging of Jack’s older brothers.”
“Not surprised. We used to worry about Jack. He seemed slightly inhibited. Not so since you showed up. We have a hard time keeping up.”
“Don’t worry about him. But there is a wrinkle. I thought I’d ask your business advice. My dad is better on the police advice.”
“Well, how nice that you thought of me.”
“The Lampoon wants me to go to Hollywood and be the music coordinator on a Lampoon movie.”
“You’re dropping out?”
“No. I’ll still finish my freshman classes, just by mail. I’ll get work-study for the job. I’ll get twice the credits. The only hitch is my editor wants me to be his eyes and ears on the set.”
“That’s awkward. You’ll be a spy. Your associates in Hollywood will eventually find out. All those relationships will be tainted.”
“Exactly. My editor says he’ll take the blame, but everyone will know where the information came from.”
“What is going on with the Lampoon? I would think they’d be above these sorts of office politics.”
“That’s exactly why I’m calling you. Can you guide me? It’s unknown territory.”
“Of course. Are you still close with Mike Antonio? You may need a lawyer.”
“I’ll call his office. Thanks, good advice.”
“I have heard that there is a bid from a media group to buy out the National Lampoon .”
“That’s what my editor is worried about, losing the pipeline from Harvard to the national magazine.”
“Well, with the national moving into movies and other entertainment, it’s more like a corporate media conglomerate, not just a magazine styled on its Harvard roots.”
“He feels the managing editors will sell out for their own payout. Harvard will just take a payment for use of the name. It’s not about the money for him. Harvard will lose editorial control.”
Daddy laughs. “Jesus, Tim. You sure like sticking your nose into the action. Mergers and acquisitions is a highly specialized banking field. Maybe you need to be taking classes at Harvard Business School. There’s a lot of money to be made in a buyout, like you’re describing.”
“I’m already going to get double credits for this semester. Should I go to business school in the Spring?”
“You need a BA to go, but it may be instructive to write-up a case study on your experiences. Go see Marty Feldstein in the Economics Department. I’ll get you an introduction. He was recently named as one of the outstanding professors under the age of 40. He can tell you about B School case studies. He may change your opinion about Harvard professors.”
“You’ve been talking with Jack about my bad attitude.”
“I think you don’t appreciate Harvard yet.”
“My editor told me I need to get some perspective before they kick me out. He even thinks Jack and I should be apart.”
“What does Jack think?”
“He’s said I can go to LA. He’s been mad when I seem to sabotage his social aspirations at Harvard, like at Porcellian.”
“It may be best in the long run.”
“I really like that we talked,” I praise my putative father-in-law.
“I’ll let you know when to see Feldstein. Don’t be put off that he’s a Republican.”
“All part of your advice to keep an open mind.”
“Call me anytime, Tim. You’re part of the family.”
“Just Dad will do.”
“Okay, Just Dad.” We both laugh.
Next I called Mike Sr. Jay comes on the line.
“Long time, amigo.”
“Of course, I only fool around in your dreams.”
“I’m at Harvard now. I’m in so much trouble I may need a lawyer.”
“They catch you smoking pot?”
“Naw. I’ve outgrown that. I’m going to be hired as a music consultant on a movie.”
“A student film?”
“A real Hollywood film. Jack’s dad says I may need legal representation, for me to call Mike.”
“Well, I passed the bar. Entertainment is one of my fields of experience, after shepherding you guys around.”
“Yeah, you shepherded me right into the Everglades.”
“Just a detour on your meteoric rise to fame.”
“Sounds like we’ll be working together, what a team.”
“What about Jack? He working on the film too?”
“They’re separating us after several unfortunate incidents in Harvard Yard.”
“Sounds like you have a new band.”
“I guess I’ll always have a band to play with. We backed up Liza Minnelli and Elton John on shows at the Troubadour.”
“It was in the paper here.”
“We made the news? Jack will be pleased.”
“You can do contracts and negotiate music rights for this movie?”
“Sounds right out of my law school text books.”
“This is great,” I’m so happy to be calling him again.
“You want to speak with Mike?”
“Hi, Mike,” I greet him.
“No longer Mr. Antonio?”
“Well, You work for me again. I just retained Jay to represent me in my new job. I’m being hired as musical consultant on a major movie.”
“I thought you were at Harvard. Michael just talked with you.”
“It’s work-study. I’m on the Lampoon staff.”
“So, it’s a joke.”
“No, its big time. The National Lampoon is being bought out. The Harvard Lampoon is sending me out to Hollywood to help them retain creative control. The Harvard administration just wants a payout on the use of the name. We want to keep the connection to feed Harvard grads to the new company.”
“Tim, you’re not versed in the intricacies of mergers and acquisitions.”
“This is way beyond your experience.”
“I know. That’s why I called Jack’s father. He told me to call you. My editor wants me to be his spy on the negotiations as well as prove Harvard adds creative value to the National Lampoon, not just a prestigious name.”
“Jesus, Tim. This is not high school anymore. Never let yourself be used. What are you getting out of it?”
“Maybe I can get the band signed to be in the movie.”
“Don’t ever commit to anything on a maybe.”
“Well, I meet the National people in New York next week. I’ll tell them I’d never be a spy, too much like a snitch in jail.”
“Let me know how it works out. Anytime you have a question, call Jay. I’ll be available if it blows up.”
“Thanks, Mike. I guess you still do work for me.”
Kurt takes his office back once I hang up.
“Still unsure about Hollywood?”
“More unsure about New York. I got good advice from Jack’s dad.”
“The inscrutable Mr. Stone. What did he say?”
“I’m to talk with Professor Feldstein about doing a case study after we’re done with ‘Animal House.’”
“The Econ 10 wunderkind. Why him?”
“He thinks I need to appreciate Harvard more.”
“Well, Feldstein’s very popular. If the National Lampoon thinks you’re doing academic research they may be less suspicious that you’re my spy.”
“The family’s not at the Dakota. I have to stay at the Chelsea in Greenwich Village.”
“Not exactly the Upper West Side.”
“It’ll fit my budget.”
“Oh. I found some money in our budget until you get on salary. You’ll get $50 per diem.”
“When do I go?”
“They expect you on Monday morning.”
“Do I get any spy gear, like a miniature camera?”
On Wednesday I go to see Professor Feldstein in his offices. For a Republican he is enthusiastic and full of energy. I explain my concerns about being part of a plot to derail the buyout of the National Lampoon. We discuss the politics of the deal, noting Harvard’s administration is only concerned with the money they can get for selling the Lampoon name.
“It worries me that rewarding management for accepting a buyout isn’t in the best interests of customers and the other employees,” he states.
“You only make money when you sell something,” I observe.
“That’s very Darwinian. What about the greater good?”
“I thought you were a Republican?”
“You think Republicans only think about profit?”
“I think they worry that their sons will waste all the money they’ve accumulated.”
“Hah. I see why Edgar Stone likes you. How do you know him?”
“His son, Jack, is my roommate.”
“Nice. Been visiting to the Dakota yet?”
“Yeah. We started a band called Dakota, with Leonard Bernstein’s daughter and John Lennon’s son.”
“You’re a musician, too?”
“That’s how I got the gig as music coordinator on the movie.”
“Gig? I love it.” He laughs. “Here’s an outline on the required elements for a business case study, as well as a couple of decent examples. You do a good job, I’ll give you credit for Econ 10.
Somehow I’m racking up the Harvard credits. I guess if they were willing to give Minehan credits, they must pass them out freely.
“Any advice on how to be a spy on the buyout.”
“Keep your mouth shut, listen when you’re in the room, and report what you hear without trying to analyze or edit it.”
“That’s pretty specific. Is this something that happens a lot in business?”
“In business, people are careless about information when they trust you. Lose that trust and you may as well look for another job.”
I learn more in thirty minutes with Feldstein than I’d learned in two months of classes. Of course, I never go to class. Jack is my spy.
Friday night we return to the Ritz. I wonder if it is Jack’s trick to keep us from hitting the Rat. No one complains. As we sip our cocktails before dining, Jack gets up and announces that I’m leaving Sunday for a job interview in New York.
“Oh, no,” Jill cries. “You’re dropping out?”
“Au contraire, mon amie. I get credit for work-study, as well as credit for this Fall’s classes. I’ll get credit for Econ 10 in the Spring if the professor approves the case study I write on the job.”
“That’s not fair. You get credit for the whole year and paid for it.”
“They just want my dad’s money, figuring I was sure to be expelled before Christmas.”
“Did you pull strings, Jack?” Minehan accuses him.
Jack bursts into tears. “I don’t want him to go,” he cries.
“Oh, Jack. I’ll still be your roommate,” Minehan tries to comfort him.
“And I’ll be here enough to make sure you don’t turn gay,” I warn David.
“So, you’ll still be around?” Jill looks hopeful.
“How can I not miss these beautiful blue eyes?” I smile at her. She turns bright red. “I’ll tell everyone once I get the job.”
After we eat our meal, they all serenade me with ‘So Long, Farewell,’ from ‘The Sound of Music.’
The performance gets a big hand from the other diners. We have built a following for our Friday recitals. As long as we sing Broadway hits.
As we were leaving, a hotel security officer asks us to follow him to the Ritz ballroom. The guards have set up a phonograph and have two boys our age there, looking like Irish Spring Soap commercials.
“We want to bring you boys up to snuff on real Irish step-dancing,” the guard announces.
The Irish boys take us aside. They quickly have our hands to the side and learning how to turn an ankle while hopping to the rhythm. In just a few minutes the boys bring Minehan and the five ‘Cliffies on stage, making it five boys and five girls. The guards man the phonograph and we’re put through our paces for an hour of real Irish step-dancing. No one talks about going to the Rat afterward.
Back at Mower, we tell Minehan he had to sleep on the third floor that night. We have a week’s worth of fucking to get through. I’m to leave on the train to New York after morning mass.